The Qipao: The Carrier of Chinese Cultural and Philosophical Symbols

Author: Fung Kei Cheng, Independent Researcher, Hong Kong
Published: August 25, 2021

Citation: Cheng, F. K. (2021). The Qipao: The Carrier of Chinese Cultural and Philosophical Symbols. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 8(1).


The qipao has become the symbol of identity for Chinese women. It is a tight-fitting dress with a standing collar, an asymmetric left-over-right opening and two-side slits. Chinese knot buttons are also an essential part of the qipao. While the garment serves to express Chinese values and has philosophical connotations, its colour, fabric pattern and Chinese knot buttons express wishes for happiness, luck, fortune, longevity as well as a yearning for peaceful interpersonal relationships and harmony with nature. The qipao was developed not only from a traditional gown used by the Han (the majority Chinese ethnic group), but also integrated minority cultural elements and has recently added Western sartorial patterns. This has resulted in a national dress that is more harmonious with contemporary aesthetics, manifesting the adaptability, versatility and inclusiveness of Chinese culture.

Keywords: aesthetics, Chinese knot button, material culture, traditional costume, yin-yang principle